The cancellation of public and political gatherings, warnings against international travel, an emergency interest rate cut and high-profile members of the public reporting positive COVID-19 test results were just some of the events that happened this week as the coronavirus pandemic intensified.

“It’s exceptional, at a minimum, that all of these things are happening not just in Canada, but globally,” said Rob Russo, managing editor of CBC’s Parliamentary Bureau.

The CBC’s Rosemary Barton has questions about how the economy can be sustained in the midst of widespread shutdowns.

I’m very proud of how we have chosen very deliberately to follow the lead of our public health experts,” says Carla Qualtrough, minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, of the federal government’s coronavirus response.

Qualtrough sits on the federal government’s cabinet COVID-19 committee and insists that the patchwork advice Canadians are hearing from their provincial and territorial health authorities is by design.

“It was consciously decided that the provinces would make their own call on this because they know their jurisdiction the best,” Qualtrough told The House.

“Our public health agency has absolutely been leading with expertise, with caution and with informed advice and decision-making that we are taking.”

The minister added that while the details remain a work in progress, measures like temporary benefits for the self-employed and extended tax-filing deadlines are other options Canadians could see deployed in the coming weeks.

The day before MPs agreed to shut down the House of Commons for five weeks, host Chris Hall went to Parliament Hill to check in with elected officials.

As Canada adopts increasingly strict public health measures, how do politicians feel about flying back to their constituencies, or continuing their jobs as MPs?

“I’m required by my job to be on airplanes a big chunk of the time. I don’t like it, I don’t want to do it — but it’s the job,” said Green Party MP Elizabeth May. “I don’t want to find out later that members of Parliament were vectors for the distribution of COVID-19. That’s not going to be a good story.”

The House also spoke to members of the Board of Internal Economy and other MPs who played a role in making the tough decision to wind down Parliamentary business this week.

The cancelled sporting events, closed schools and shuttered theatres inspired by the COVID-19 crisis might look like entirely new things, but they aren’t — they also happened during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.

Historian Mark Humphries points out that, a century ago, Canada had no federal health department to coordinate a response plan.

“The fact that we do have a federal minister who is responsible for helping coordinate those responses, to help share resources, to facilitate communication, that’s a really key thing,” said Humphries, who wrote the 2012 book The Last Plague: Spanish Influenza and the Politics of Public Health in Canada.

“Life was put on hold briefly … but [it does] start up again,” he told host Chris Hall. “Society is a very resilient thing and this is something that is a major challenge that history tells us we’ll move past.”

Perhaps no province in Canada needs fiscal stabilization more than Newfoundland and Labrador. Its finances are in turmoil and the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project has gone about $6 billion over budget and is two years behind schedule.

Adding tumbling oil prices and the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19 into the mix leaves the province facing a perfect storm of financial consequences.

The CBC’s Chris O’Neill-Yates brings a special report to The House.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Nurses turned away from testing centres if they don’t have appointment

Nurses working on the frontline are being turned away from coronavirus testing centres if they do not have appointment, MPs have been told. Dame Donna Kinnair, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said staff suffering from symptoms of Covid-19…

The Tories can’t help ‘blue wall’ voters unless they understand them

In the weeks since the election, the Westminster agenda has been focused on the politics and economics of place. That’s because of some very specific locales: the 50 seats across north Wales, the Midlands and the north that switched from…

Impeachment aide says graphic accidentally included fake blue check on tweet shown in trial

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what’s clicking on A senior impeachment aide said the inclusion of a fake blue check verification mark on tweets that were presented at the Senate trial was an accident. The tweets showed…

Who are Labour’s socialist societies backing?

They come in all shapes and sizes, and one is older than the party itself – welcome to the world of Labour’s affiliated “socialist societies”. Many of these 20 groups, which range from tiny professional networks and think tanks to…